I’m a big fan of illusions and well performed magic.
Amazing close up sleight of hand. Apparently the iPhone stopwatch was included in the shot to dispel the idea of editing tricks. I quite liked this one.
Michael (at VSauce) is always entertaining. This video (made in 2012) is not as intense as his more recent works, but still thought provoking and entertaining. Enjoy 🙂
This may be the best CaptainDisillusion video yet.
Captain Disillusion ponders the very concept of magic by taking a close look at the work of one particular illusionist.
I love illusions and i love the secrets behind the illusions. Enjoy 🙂
(To skip some fluff: At 1:15 in the video you can skip forward to 4:20 in the video.)
Help make more videos like this and see behind-the-scenes extras: patreon.com/CaptainDisillusion
As Captain Disillusion attempts to deconstruct a classic viral video by Dan DeEntremont, he is visited by… an old flame.
People who’ve stared death in the face and lived to tell about it—mountain climbers who’ve made a harrowing descent, say, or survivors of the World Trade Center attacks—sometimes report that just when their situation seemed impossible, a ghostly presence appeared. People with schizophrenia and certain types of neurological damage sometimes report similar experiences, which scientists call, aptly, “feeling of presence.”
Now a team of neuroscientists says it has identified a set of brain regions that seems to be involved in generating this illusion. Better yet, they’ve built a robot that can cause ordinary people to experience it in the lab.
The team was led by Olaf Blanke, a neurologist and neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Blanke has a long-standing interest in creepy illusions of bodily perception. Studying these bizarre phenomena, he says, could point to clues about the biology of mental illness and the mechanisms of human consciousness.
In 2006, for example, Blanke and colleagues published a paper in Nature that had one of the best titles you’ll ever see in a scientific journal: “Induction of an illusory shadow person.” In that study, they stimulated the brain of a young woman who was awaiting brain surgery for severe epilepsy. Surgeons had implanted electrodes on the surface of her brain to monitor her seizures, and when the researchers passed a mild current through the electrodes, stimulating a small region at the intersection of the temporal and parietal lobes of her brain, she experienced what she described as a shadowy presence lurking nearby, mimicking her own posture.
Did somebody say optical illusion? This is a classic illusion explained. 🙂
In 1934, ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. devised a room that pushes the boundaries of human perception. Visit a virtual version of the now famous Ames room, as Scientific American Mind editor Ingrid Wickelgren explains how it works.
If you know me you know i like a good illusion. Exposing flaws in the brain is fun!
Here is a good one from Mighty Optical Illusions
Keep staring at the flashing green dot, and the yellow dots will fade or disappear due to motion-induced blindness.
It starts out in Russian, the English begins at the 0:50 mark. The description below the video has been translated from Russian to English by Google Translate.
I have my fingers crossed. 🙂
Description via Google Translate:
Paul Zenon is one of the most famous British magicians with extensive experience in the representation of different tricks, illusions, frauds and paranormal topics. It has several hundred appearances in television shows and almost 30 years experience in participating in public. Began to earn money as a street magician and learns how people can be fooled and manipulated. Then apply their practical knowledge of human psychology and attention to good causes like exposing pseudoscientific “stars”.
Gender Ratio of Zeno presented the most common techniques of mediums, illustrated with examples from the past few centuries. Cold reading (cold reading) and pre-collect information about companion enjoy the same frequency as in the 19th century and television fortune-tellers today.
Intro by Mason I. Bilderberg
I’m not one to sit and watch lengthy videos on my laptop. So when i suggest you watch a 49 minute video, you can trust me – it’s worth watching.
Have you ever heard of Derren Brown? I’ve been following Derren Brown for over a decade, i’ve read many of his books and i think i’ve seen all of his performances. I’m never disappointed.
Here is how WikiPedia describes him:
Derren Brown (born 27 February 1971) is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions, and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Since the first broadcast of his show Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000, Brown has become increasingly well known for his mind-reading act. He has written books for magicians as well as the general public.
From Derren Brown’s webpage (2012):
Dubbed a ‘psychological illusionist’ by the Press, Derren Brown is a performer who combines magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behaviour, as well as performing mind-bending feats of mentalism.
In a nutshell, while repeatedly reminding us he doesn’t have any kind of magical abilities, Derren Brown mimics with perfection all those who DO claim to have magical abilities.
In this video, Derren takes on the following roles:
- A psychic that can see what you’re drawing when you’re in a different room,
- The ability to convert people to Christianity with just a touch,
- A new age entrepreneur with a machine that can record and play back your dreams,
- An alien abductee who was left with the ability to sense your medical history and
- A psychic medium that communicates with the dead.
He is so convincing in these roles that he gets endorsements for his “special powers” from the “experts” who witnessed his performances.
I believe he will convince you too!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Researchers use virtual reality gear to mess with subjects’ perspective
If you think about it, memory is an astounding thing. At will, our brains can dig back through the archives and pull out the sights, sounds, smells, sensations, and emotions from a day long gone. All those memories have one pretty obvious thing in common—everything about an experience is recorded from a first-person perspective. But what happens if your memory is not in first-person.
Some people go through what is commonly referred to as “out-of-body experiences,” where they feel a sense of detachment from their body as if they were somehow floating above it. This and related “dissociative” phenomena can be a part of posttraumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia, for example. The people who have out-of-body experiences often seem to have difficulty recalling these experiences with the usual amount of detail. That could be a clue about how our memories work, but how could you design an experiment to test the possibilities?
Loretxu Bergouignan and Henrik Ehrsson of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and Umeå University’s Lars Nyberg have an answer. They utilized a setup that simulates the feeling of an out-of-body experience by transporting a subject’s perception of sight and sound across the room. (Science writer Ed Yong has first-hand knowledge of this non-first-person experience.) Subjects wear a virtual-reality-like display connected to stereo cameras and microphones that can be placed elsewhere. Under controlled conditions (holding still, etc.) the illusion can be quite profound.
In order to test the effect this has on memory, the researchers staged situations intended to be memorable. The participants—64 university students—were given some reading materials on several topics and told they would be given an oral exam. After they studied up, they donned the virtual reality gear. The cameras were placed in a few different configurations: either just above and behind the student’s head to match a normal perspective, on the opposite side of the room pointing back at themselves, or a few feet to their right. To reinforce the out-of-body illusion, one person walked up to the cameras and repeatedly extended a rod toward a point below them while another poked the student’s actual chest synchronously.
At this point, a professional actor playing the role of an “eccentric professor” entered the room, sat in a chair facing the student, and began to . . .
I’m always fascinated by how the mind works. Check out Apollo Robbins, he’s incredible.
Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.
As many of you know, i LOVE optical illusions. Not just because of their visual impact, but also because of the insights it can give us into the workings of our brain, another favorite topic of mine.
This is one of my favorite YouTube channels because they always post something interesting.
Check it out. 🙂
Via ▶ Moving Illusions – YouTube
By Benjamin Radford via LiveScience
Amazing coincidences happen all the time — but are they simply the product of random chance, or do they convey some hidden meaning? The answer may depend on whether you believe in synchronicity.
The term synchronicity was coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961). Jung had a strong belief in a wide variety of paranormal phenomenon, including psychic powers, astrology, alchemy, predictive dreams, UFOs and telekinesis (moving objects with the mind). He was also obsessed with numerology — the belief that certain numbers have special cosmic significance, and can predict important life events.
Jung’s concept of synchronicity is complicated and poorly defined, but can be boiled down to describing “meaningful coincidences.” The concept of synchronicity came to Jung during a period of mental illness in the early 1900s. Jung became convinced that everything in the universe is intimately connected, and that suggested to him that there must exist a collective unconscious of humankind. This implied to him that events happening all over the world at the same time must be connected in some unknown way.
In his book “137: Jung, Pauli, and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession,” Arthur I. Miller gives an example of synchronicity; one of his patients “told Jung that when her mother and grandmother died, on each occasion a flock of birds gathered outside the window of the room.” The woman’s husband, who had symptoms of heart problems, went out to see a doctor and “on his way back the man collapsed in the street. Shortly after he had set off to see the specialist a large flock of birds had alighted on the house. His wife immediately recognized this as a sign of her husband’s impending death.”
Is synchronicity real?
There is, of course, a more prosaic explanation for curious coincidence: birds are very common, and simply by random chance a flock will appear near people who are soon to die — just as they appear daily around millions of people who are not soon to die.
The appearance of synchronicity is the result of a well-known psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias (sometimes described as remembering the hits and forgetting the misses); we much more easily notice and remember things that confirm our beliefs than those that do not. The human brain is very good at making connections and seeing designs in ambiguous stimuli and random patterns.
If Jung’s patient came to believe that a flock of birds meant that death was imminent, she would start noticing flocks of birds, and remember the times when they coincided with a loved one’s death. But she would not likely notice or remember the countless times when flocks of birds appeared over people who lived for years or decades longer. Put another way, a person dying when a flock of birds is present is an event; a person not dying when a flock of birds is present is a non-event, and therefore not something anyone pays attention to. This is the result of normal human perceptual and memory biases, not some mysterious cosmic synchronicity.
It’s easy to see why synchronicity has mass appeal; it provides meaning and order in an otherwise random universe. One famous (and more modern) example of synchronicity is . . .
Nothing conspiratorial in this post . . . just pure fun! Enjoy 🙂
Via FarlyTeem – YouTube
I just found an optical illusion that actually threw me off a little bit. I stared at this image, wondering what the optical illusion was and I came close to closing out of it and dragging it to the recycle bin, but I decided to post it. I was a bit shocked when I realized what happened. Stop reading this text right now, scroll down and patiently watch this optical illusion and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. No cheating, go look right now!
Now, this is a pretty cool picture and it’s taken from a movie that I really enjoy: The Shining. You see, I’m a pretty big fan of horror movies and this is definitely a creepy movie. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you’ll know that this is a classic one. Even though I liked this image, I didn’t know if it would work well on the site, but then I remembered that this is actually an optical illusion. You see, these are called cinemagraph optical illusions. If you like this image, you should use it on a message board or anywhere you’re active online. It will definitely catch people off-guard and they will love it.
Introduction by Mason i. Bilderberg (MIB)
How many times have you heard a paranormal investigator claim to see faces and images of the deceased in everything from a cinnabon swirl to a waft of smoke rising from a candle? Are they seeing the deceased? No. What they’re experiencing is a nearly uncontrollable urge by our brains to seek out and identify patterns. Especially human faces. This phenomenon has a name . . . Pareidolia:
«A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.» – Wikipedia
«. . . a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.
«Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception.» – The Skeptic’s Dictionary
How powerless are we to our own brains? Look at the image to the right and try to NOT see a very happy thermostat. Bet you can’t!!!
See? Our brains are hardwired to seek out and find faces.
Just HOW hardwired are we to see faces where none exist? Look at the following montage of photos and try to NOT see faces. Prepare to lose control of your mind to the power of pareidolia!!!! Bwahaha!!!!!!
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
By animator and artist Aiden Glenn of Pizza and Pixels
I am a HUGE fan of magic, especially slight of hand. This is one of the best card tricks i’ve seen in a long while. 🙂
Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Bill Malone’s signature trick. One of the most entertaining card tricks of all time!
- Sam the bell hop (oyiabrown.com)
- David Blaine Destroyed the Minds of Your Favorite Famous People on Real or Magic (grantland.com)
- David Blaine’s Card Trick Thoroughly Freaks Out Harrison Ford (businessinsider.com)
- Breaking Bad-gic: David Blaine pulls a card trick on Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul – VIDEO (popwatch.ew.com)
- VIDEO: Harrison Ford’s reaction to this insane card trick by David Blaine is absolutely priceless (deadstate.org)
via Business Insider
Magician David Blaine‘s latest TV special on ABC, “David Blaine: Real or Magic,” had the illusionist hopping from celeb to celeb, dazzling stars like Ricky Gervais, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kanye with card tricks and other crazy stunts.
But one of the best on-camera reactions came from Harrison Ford.
Ford was speechless when Blaine mysteriously pulled the 71-year-old actor’s card from an orange. He jokingly told Blaine, “Get the f— out of my house!” It’s wonderful.
[END] via Business Insider
- David Blaine’s Card Trick Thoroughly Freaks Out Harrison Ford (businessinsider.com)
- David Blaine is neither real nor magic (popwatch.ew.com)
- David Blaine Destroyed the Minds of Your Favorite Famous People on Real or Magic (grantland.com)
- David Blaine terrifies celebs with horrifying ice pick trick (lfpress.com)
- David Blaine Does Magic, Celebrities React in Shock (thehollywoodgossip.com)
Tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know…
In the 1999 sci-fi film classic The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, is stunned to see people defying the laws of physics, running up walls and vanishing suddenly. These superhuman violations of the rules of the universe are possible because, unbeknownst to him, Neo’s consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality simulation created by sentient machines.
The action really begins when Neo is given a fateful choice: Take the blue pill and return to his oblivious, virtual existence, or take the red pill to learn the truth about the Matrix and find out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Physicists can now offer us the same choice, the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space. As fanciful as it sounds, some philosophers have long argued that we’re actually more likely to be artificial intelligences trapped in a fake universe than we are organic minds in the “real” one.
But if that were true, the very laws of physics that allow us to devise such reality-checking technology may have little to do with the fundamental rules that govern the meta-universe inhabited by our simulators. To us, these programmers would be gods, able to twist reality on a whim.
So should we say yes to the offer to take the red pill and learn the truth — or are the implications too disturbing?
Worlds in Our Grasp
The first serious attempt to find the truth about our universe came in 2001, when an effort to calculate the resources needed for a universe-size simulation made the prospect seem impossible.
Seth Lloyd, a quantum-mechanical engineer at MIT, estimated the number of “computer operations” our universe has performed since the Big Bang — basically, every event that has ever happened. To repeat them, and generate a perfect facsimile of reality down to the last atom, would take more energy than the universe has.
“The computer would have to be bigger than the universe, and time would tick more slowly in the program than in reality,” says Lloyd. “So why even bother building it?”
But others soon realized that making an imperfect copy of the universe that’s just good enough to fool its inhabitants would take far less computational power. In such a makeshift cosmos, the fine details of the microscopic world and the farthest stars might only be filled in by the programmers on the rare occasions that people study them with scientific equipment. As soon as no one was looking, they’d simply vanish.
In theory, we’d never detect these disappearing features, however, because each time the simulators noticed we were observing them again, they’d sketch them back in.
That realization makes creating virtual universes eerily possible, even for us.
- Do We Live in the Matrix? (discovermagazine.com)
- Is there an afterlife? Scientists offer Matrix-style theory of reality to answer life’s biggest question (mirror.co.uk)
A great debunking. 🙂
- Debunking the Viral ‘Miss Ping’ Video (patheos.com)
- WATCH Captain Disillusion Debunk The Viral Ping Pong Knife Act (huffingtonpost.com)
Recently I read this VICE article about a person by the name of Ed Chiarini (whether that is his real name or not is unknown, but it doesn’t really matter) whom is a conspiracy theorist whom believes that everyone you see in the media is actually an actor (even famous actors).
When I first read this article I honestly believed that this person was a poe due to the sheer fact that the conspiracy theories he was creating and promoting were so ridicules that it bordered on satire…
Sadly, it wasn’t satire. He really does believe what he is saying. I figured that out when I saw his posts about the Sandy Hook massacre and that everyone seen in photos and videos being “crisis actors”. Even a well constructed poe would not cross that line.
After seeing that this person clearly believed what he was saying it became very clear that this person most likely has major mental health issues.
Many people who were commenting on the article were saying that he probably has schizophrenia, which is very probable he does have, but I was told by a fellow skeptic that he may have a rare mental disorder called Fregoli delusion.
Fregoli delusion, also known as the “delusion of doubles”, is a mental disorder that is sometimes the result of a brain injury and can leave a person to believe that two or more people are actually one person.
Besides believing that two different people are in fact the same person, other behaviors that can go along with Fregoli delusion includes the following: . . .
- Why do people lie about their belief in a Conspiracy Theory? (illuminutti.com)
- How reality caught up with paranoid delusions (illuminutti.com)
- The bible of psychiatric diagnosis exempts religion from “delusions”, even though it is one (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Reality and Mental Illness are Starting to Converge (neatorama.com)
- Mental Disorders – Paranoia, Symptoms and Potential Treatments (criminologyjust.blogspot.com)
- Psychotic Disorders (landmark97.com)
I have been a fan of Dr. Susan Blackmore ever since i read her book In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist.
One of my favorite topics she writes and talks about is her theory that we don’t have free will. I am fascinated by such a counterintuitive idea. Maybe you will be too.
This video is about an hour long, i haven’t finished watching it yet, but i’m sure i will enjoy it if it’s like all her other discussions.
By Marc Lallanilla via LiveScience
The Marfa Lights, mysterious glowing orbs that appear in the desert outside the West Texas town of Marfa, have mystified people for generations.
According to eyewitnesses, the Marfa Lights appear to be roughly the size of basketballs and are varyingly described as white, blue, yellow, red or other colors.
Reportedly, the Marfa Lights hover, merge, twinkle, split into two, flicker, float up into the air or dart quickly across Mitchell Flat (the area east of Marfa where they’re most commonly reported).
There seems to be no way to predict when the lights will appear; they’re seen in various weather conditions, but only a dozen or so nights a year. And nobody knows for sure what they are — or if they really even exist at all.
The Native Americans of the area thought the Marfa Lights were fallen stars, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The first mention of the lights comes from 1883, when cowhand Robert Reed Ellison claimed to have seen flickering lights one evening while driving a herd of cattle near Mitchell Flat. He assumed the lights were from Apache campfires.
Ellison was told by area settlers that they often saw the lights, too, but upon investigation, they found no ashes or other evidence of a campfire, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
During World War II, pilots from nearby Midland Army Air Field tried to locate the source of the mysterious lights, but were unable to discover anything.
Lovers of the paranormal have attributed the Marfa Lights to everything from space aliens to the wandering ghosts of Spanish conquistadors.
Academics, too, have tried to offer a scientific explanation for the enigmatic lights. A group of physics students from the University of Texas at Dallas concluded that headlights from vehicles on nearby U.S. Highway 67 could explain at least some of the reported sightings of the Marfa Lights.
Another possible explanation is the refraction of light caused by layers of air at different temperatures. This optical illusion, sometimes called a superior mirage or a “Fata Morgana,” according to Skeptoid.com, occurs when a layer of calm, warm air rests above a layer of cooler air.
A Fata Morgana is sometimes seen in the ocean, causing a ship to appear to float above the horizon. The temperature gradients needed to produce this optical effect are common in the West Texas desert.
Still others speculate the Marfa Lights may be caused by . . .
- What are the Marfa lights? (sott.net)
- chookooloonks wild west road trip: the marfa lights (chookooloonks.com)
- Packing for Marfa (wherethedartfalls.com)
We all like magic and more importantly we all like to think we can work out magic tricks if we really want to. But as it turns out, even a simple card trick utilizes neuro-scientific principles to trick our brain in ways that we usually can’t consciously control. So what exactly is wrong with our brain? Well nothing really, but years of evolution has left it with traits that leave it wide open to be duped by magic. For example . . .
10 • Focus
Multi tasking is a myth, the human brain simply wasn’t designed to focus on two things at once and magicians take full advantage. Our attention is pulled to one thing in particular due to the ‘moving-spotlight‘ theory. In short, the theory says that our attention is like a spotlight, highlighting one thing while leaving what surrounds it in the dark. When an item or action is within the spotlight the parts of the brain involved in processing it work more efficiently, but anything beyond the spotlight is barely processed at all, at least not by our conscious mind. This allows magicians to pull a sleight of hand right under our noses, as long as something else is drawing our spotlight what happens beyond it, to our brain isn’t happening at all.
9 • Made Up Memories
The ‘misinformation effect’ occurs when information we are given after an event alters our memory of it. For example, a magician asks you to choose a card from the left side of the deck and return it without telling him. Before the razzle-dazzle where he guesses your card he may say something like ‘Now you chose any card you wanted, correct?’ And in the heat of the moment you will say you did. The truth is you were only given the option of the left side of the deck, but the ambiguous comments from the magician alters how you remember the trick, leaving you with a false memory making the trick seem perhaps more incredible than it was.
8 • Predicted Wrong Future
When you see a ball get thrown in the air, it comes back down. You’ve a seen it a million times. You know that what comes up must come down and so does your brain. In fact because of something called the ‘Memory-prediction framework’ our brain sometimes remembers certain actions so well, it stops paying close attention because it predicts how they will end. When a ball gets thrown in the air our brain instantaneously recalls memories of similar events and produces an idea of what’s going to happen next, but sometimes it’s wrong. When a magician puts a ball in a cup only to have it disappear when the cup is lifted, we are shocked because what our brain predicted didn’t come true. Our brains often feed us a prediction and convinces us we saw it happen, which leaves us even more shocked when the predicted action didn’t happen at all.
7 • Free Will
When we ‘pick a card, any card’ we are very rarely picking at random, no matter what it seems. It is usually the magician choosing for us, only without our knowledge. In many card tricks the card we apparently choose is ‘forced’ meaning the magician did something, mental or physical, to make us choose exactly what they wanted us to. But our brain will often over look or deny this as an option, in favor of free choice. Our brain simply does not want to believe it was forced and will often omit facts that may indicate that it was, instead jumping fully into the false idea that all choices were all our own.
6 • Filling in The Blanks
The ‘woman sawed in half trick’ is old enough that most people know the secret. The head we see in one end of the box doesn’t belong to the legs we see at the other. But our brain insists and assumes it does, why? Because our brain is a sucker for continuity. When it sees a head in rough alignment with a set of legs it uses past experience to fill in the blank and tell us that obviously a torso exists between those two body parts. In many magic tricks an object is partially covered, and our brain uses what it CAN see to continue the image and fill in the blank, of course that is exactly what the magician wants.
- 10 Ways Magic Tricks Your Brain (listverse.com)
- Who will apply the art of “diverting your attention” on you today? (eagleman6788.wordpress.com)
- Really, Really, Really, Interactive Magic Trick (theinteractivemagician.wordpress.com)
- Geometrical magic trick (meangreenmath.com)
- Magic Tricks Benefit Children With Autism? (kidzedge.com)
Can you figure out how this is done? I have my thoughts (clue to my solution: “FA”). What are yours? Leave a comment.
Though this prank video is an obvious attempt at force inducing viral-ity by Pepsi Max, it’s still a pretty fun watch. The magician Dynamo tricks people into thinking he can levitate by ‘magically’ following a bus around as it moves across London. Watch people freak out when they see him float.
- How Does He Do It? Magician Dynamo Stuns Onlookers As He Levitates From The Roof Of A London Bus (modernghana.com)
- Magician Dynamo Levitates From The Roof Of A London Bus (akan2011.wordpress.com)
- Dynamo ‘levitates’ next to London bus (thescottishsun.co.uk)
- Magician Dynamo stuns onlookers as he levitates from the roof of a London bus (themaytimes.com)
- dynamo pepsi max (thesun.co.uk)
Ever look at clouds and see a rabbit or a dog? Or pop out a piece of toast and see the partially burnt face of Jesus looking at you? This bizarre experience is called pareidolia—a psychological phenomenon whereby a sight or sound triggers something in your brain, persuading you that what you hear or see is something recognizable.
One well-known example of pareidolia involves seeing “the man in the moon”. But there are many more examples of pareidolia in space—and as our robots, spacecraft, and telescopes take more and more images, we’re discovering more space pareidolia daily. Here are ten of the most astounding examples:
10 • Horsehead Nebula – Orion
One of the oldest and most familiar examples of space pareidolia is the horsehead nebula, or Barnard 33, which is a cold and dark cloud of dust and gas silhouetted by the bright nebula IC 434. The Horsehead Nebula is located in the constellation Orion, and appears to be a side-on view of a horsehead.
First noted in 1888, it is 1,500 light years from Earth. The dark shadowing of the Horsehead Nebula is created by dust, but at the base of the nebula you can see bright spots which are young stars just being formed. The bright star just visible in the top left side of the horsehead is a young star still embedded in the stellar nursery of gas and dust. The radiation from this young star is so powerful that it s starting to erode the cloud – so millions of years in the future, the Horsehead Nebula may not bear any resemblance to its current form.
9 • The Face on Mars – Mars
Another very well-known example of pareidolia in space is Cydonia Mensae, or “The Face on Mars”. On July 25, 1976, NASA released a series of images snapped by the Viking spacecraft orbiters. These images depicted the Cydonia Mensae region of Mars—a region of flat-topped mesa-like formations. The first image showed what appeared to be a human face looking skyward. This was originally dismissed as a trick of shadowing on the Martian rocks; a subsequent image, however, likewise showed what would become known as The Face on Mars—even with the sun at a different angle.
These images sparked decades of speculation about the possibility of life on Mars, and prompted talk of advanced civilizations which may have left behind giant, human-like memorials on the planet.
Twenty years later, however, Mars was visited by three more spacecraft which orbited the planet and took higher resolution images. These better quality images proved that what appeared to be a giant statue of a human face was simply a normal Martian mountain, which—when seen with the correct shadowing and illumination—created pareidolia in the minds of the observers.
8 • Tinker Bell or The Space Hummingbird – Three Galaxies
In an amazing image captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope, we can observe the collision of three different galaxies. Most interestingly, we can note the effect that each of them is having on the others. As the three galaxies collided, they have twisted, stretched, and pulled one other into a recognizable shape. Is it Tinker Bell or a Space Hummingbird? Whichever you decide, it is certainly a beautiful image.
7 • The Elephant on Mars – Mars
Mars is home to many examples of pareidolia, largely due to the fact that—like the moon—it is so highly photographed. Either that, or Martians have just been busy creating human-like structures for such a very long time. You decide.
Another example is the “Elephant Face”, which resembles an elephant head in profile, complete with an eye and an elongated elephant trunk. The image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and was intended to capture a lava flow in Elysium Planitia.
6 • The Crowned Face – Mars
It seems to me that “The Face on Mars” looks more like the human alien in the film “Prometheus” than any real human. But another pareidolia on Mars, located in the Libya Montes region, looks more genuinely human.
It appears to be an almost classical Greek or Roman face, complete with a crown, and it is often imaginatively referred to as “The Crowned Face”. Remarkably, most people can “see” the Libya Montes face in many different kinds of light.
- ‘Mars Rat’ Takes Internet by Storm (illuminutti.com)
- The Face on Mars (illuminutti.com)
- 10 Astounding Examples of Pareidolia In Outer Space (listverse.com)
- More rockin’ pareidolia on Mars: Lizard-rat (doubtfulnews.com)
- Seeing stars: the astonishing art of space photography (guardian.co.uk)